The Shepherd’s Flock
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). What comforting words! Words spoken by the Good Shepherd of the sheep. They contain gracious consolation for all who are members of His flock, purchased by His blood. The context, in which this promise appears, contains a warning against covetousness. The parable of the rich fool was related by the Lord to teach that riches are not the important thing in life, but that to be rich towards God is true wisdom. To be rich in grace, rich in faith, rich in good works, is the mark of a truly wealthy man.
In this passage, the Lord Jesus also points out to the believer the importance of seeking first the Kingdom of God, and follows this with the promise added, that those who do so, need not be anxious about the common necessities of life. “Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” This assurance should allay all anxiety in the believer’s life. This “Fear not” of promise is the climax to all that has gone before. Let us notice three things in this verse:
The Simile of Christ
His people are a flock, a little flock. His own have always been few in number when contrasted with the vast numbers of professors. We need not be surprised at this, for our blessed Lord reminds us in Matthew 7:14 that few are on the narrow way. Throughout the Scriptures believers are likened to sheep. It is true of them, “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isa. 53:6). We read also in 1 Peter 2:25, “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Christ is the Good Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep and, through faith in Him, we become members of that flock which He purchased with His own blood. In the language of the hymn we can say:
“I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray;
Threw His loving arms around me
Drew me back into His way.”
In John’s Gospel, chapter 10, our blessed Lord reminds us that we are “His own sheep,” and assures us we are secure in Him; we, therefore, are members of that one flock.
The Exhortation of Christ
“Fear not,” said He, for the Lord Jesus knew the hearts of His own. He knew how they would be filled with fears of every description, fears because they were few in numbers, fears because of their enemies, fears because of the many difficulties in the way. He answered these many fears by giving to them words of comfort, cheer, and promise. The reason why we should never fear is because the Great Shepherd of the sheep tends with sweet unwearied care the flock for which He died.
(a) We need not fear poverty. Isaiah the prophet pictures Him as feeding His flock like a Shepherd. Our passage reminds us that God even cares for the fowls of the air: “God feedeth them” (v. 24). We are surely, in Christ, much better than the fowls. “I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down,” the Lord declares through Ezekiel (34:15). The Christian certainly need not fear poverty.
(b) We need not fear danger. Christ as the Shepherd in Ezekiel 34:25 says, “I will cause the evil beasts to cease … and they (My sheep) shall dwell safely …, and sleep in the woods.” Again, He says, “They shall dwell safely and none shall make them afraid” (v. 28). Since every member of the little flock can say, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” they can also say in their daily experiences, “I will fear no evil.” Like the Master Himself, we may be despised and rejected, mocked at, and ridiculed, but since God is our God, and Christ is our Shepherd, they that are for us are greater than all they who are against us. The world, the flesh, and the devil are mighty enemies; but with Christ as our Shepherd we have nothing to fear. The Master’s “Fear not” should allay our anxieties.
We need not fear death. Christ, as the Shepherd of the sheep, has come forth from the grave. “He passed through death and gloriously confounded our every foe” to the end, “That through death, He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14). “The sting of death is sin,” but Christ suffered for sin; He, thereby, removed the sting for every one of His children. Through faith in Him we can say in triumph, “Yea though I walk through the valley of
The Assurance of Christ
God is our Father and it is His will to give us the kingdom. We have the assurance now that by virtue of the new birth we belong to the kingdom. We, therefore, are awaiting the day, when in all the fullness of blessed reality, we shall inherit the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world.
Twenty thousand sheep were sent by the King of Spain as a gift to his brother, George III, of England. They were all gathered in St. James’ Park, London, under the charge of shepherds who, while watching them, sat under the large chestnut trees there. The scattered flocks were mingled together here and there in different parts of the park. At a given signal the shepherds shouted aloud. The sheep perked up their ears at the sound, and then, each one bounded forward, dashing to the spot where stood its own shepherd. They had no difficulty in recognizing his voice and in answering his call. Even so it is with the members of our Lord’s little flock. They are scattered in different parts of the world, mixed together, and feeding in many different pasture fields, but they know His voice. As the true sheep of His pasture, they are listening for the last call, the shout of the Chief Shepherd; when, however far separated the one from the other, they, the young and old alike, will be gathered to Him out of all lands. The lambs as well as the sheep will be then eternally safe. The Divine Shepherd’s prayer must eventually be fulfilled, “That they may be one,” and “There shall be one flock and one Shepherd” (John 10:16). The waste howling wilderness with its dangers and distresses will be forever past and forgotten in the enjoyment of the eternal glory. In the meanwhile, may the Master’s “Fear not” quiet our fearful hearts with the assurance of the fact that it is better on before.
“Gracious Saviour, Holy Shepherd!
Little ones are dear to Thee;
Gathered with Thine arms defended;
In Thy bossom may they be
Sweetly, fondly, safely, tended;
From all want and danger free.
Tender Shepherd, never leave them
From Thy fold to go astray;
Let no sin nor sorrow grieve them;
May they walk the narrow way;
Thus direct them, thus protect them;
Lest they fall as easy prey.”